The last chance: French envoy's visit and Lebanon's future

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2023-06-22 | 23:54
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The last chance: French envoy's visit and Lebanon's future
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9min
The last chance: French envoy's visit and Lebanon's future

While the visit of the French Presidential Envoy, Jean-Yves Le Drian, bears the title of: "the last chance," the Christian forces turned their understanding into a card for external pressure on the table of capitals concerned with Lebanon in the face of Hezbollah's insistence on a single road map. But the lesson remains in the post-understanding stage.  

This article was originally published in and translated from the Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar.    
"The last chance," says those familiar with the tour of the French envoy, Jean-Yves Le Drian, puts Lebanese officials at all levels before their responsibilities.   

The French delegate did not come carrying a magic wand for a solution, but his visit reflects, in its folds and in the form that the meetings he held took, the fact that what he is doing is the last opportunity to return to the first principles.   

It is true that there is an attempt to bypass the significance of French and European concern over the situation in Lebanon, but it is also true that for the first time in years, the scene of a political-sectarian alignment has been restored, which has begun to impose its rhythm on Arab and Western capitals concerned with the Lebanese situation.  

It is not the first time that a presidential vacancy has occurred, and the last time, it preceded the election of President Michel Aoun, lasting two and a half years.   

With all the attention that Lebanon received at that stage, it did not turn into a worrying obsession as it is happening today, which puts the concerned parties before approaching the reasons that make the current vacancy a source of concern for the future of Lebanon.  

As a result of the discussions between Lebanese forces and Western circles, there are a set of reasons that impose themselves. It is obvious that the current vacancy follows dangerous events that brought Lebanon back into the external spotlight, starting with the Beirut Port explosion, and before that, the October 17 protests, and after them, the economic and financial collapse. 

However, despite its importance, all of this could have been dealt with a straightforward, practical program had it not been for the fear that the current vacancy was intended for practical reasons, which the political forces express in daily detail. And the new Christian intersection attempted to impose a presidential candidate on the main Christian parties, a matter that was circulated strongly at the table of the five-party committee and the capitals in full coordination with it on Arab and European levels.  

There are some Lebanese who talk about the freedom that was given to the President in the Taif Agreement in exercising his powers, applied by the Christian forces today in their comprehensive struggle, and their "positive" intersection this time, as it is not the first time that these intersect as it happened when the two most significant Christian forces, the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces, intersected to prevent the settlement of Former PM Saad Hariri and the head of the Marada Movement, Sleiman Frangieh.   

While some forces considered it a negative intersection, Hezbollah dealt with it as a positive one, which led to the delivery of its candidate to Baabda Palace. As for the second positive intersection, it was represented in the electoral law, which gave the Christian forces the appropriate number of representatives, which gave weight to their understanding this time, which was translated into preventing the election of the candidate of the Shiite duo.  

Although the first understanding brought one of the most present and represented personalities, the recent meeting took place on a personality that does not represent the assumed political weight.   

However, the lesson is that the understanding was made, regardless of the chosen character. 

Nevertheless, the duo wanted to withdraw this card from the Christian forces for a personal interest that does not enjoy the necessary Christian consensus around it, imposed by the duo under the title of handing over the Christian forces to Frangieh's affiliation with the club of the four leaders.   

What these forces have done at present is that they have turned this paper into a title for a battle that has gone beyond internal disputes for the first time in years, which stirred the Vatican, Western capitals, and members of the Arab League.   

This is what these forces rely on in continuing to put this equation on the table of any external move or in a regional arrangement that Lebanon will be one of its clauses after it succeeded in withdrawing France's coverage of a settlement that it rejects as a president and a prime minister who denied belonging to what the "March 14" movement represented. 

If these forces openly express their fear that the vacancy will be long, then they put before the outside public opinion serious fears that it begins with the presidency and is completed with the governorship of Banque du Liban and then with the vacancy of the position of the army commander, that is, in the first Maronite positions, which leads to the absence of the Sunni forces.   

This would transform the government into a tool in the hands of the Shiite duo, leading to the latter's seizure of power. In their discussions with the outside world, these forces say that the vacancy they fear crystallizes with the government's performance.   

After the government meeting, the head of the Lebanese Forces party took the initiative to refute the unconstitutionality of its meetings after a period of appeasement with PM Najib Mikati, as the FPM always repeats. 

What the three forces are saying is that the caretaker government that does not have the "trust" of the Parliament, does not enjoy a small part of the powers of the government of Prime Minister Tammam Salam, and yet it exceeds in its performance what the Salam government has done by far. 

From here, it was remarkable that, on the eve of the presidential election session, with all the fears it carried on that day, it convened as if nothing had happened. It repeated its meetings, and it will repeat it more, and again proposes the appointments of the Military Council as one of the repulsive steps.   

This laxity related to vacancies in positions or appointments may later lead to a translation of what it previously hinted at by restoring the Taif Agreement's text related to equalizing jobs for the first category between Christians and Muslims "without allocating any job to any sect."  

Christian forces, then, turn the Christian consensus into a pressure card and benefit from the positioning of the Progressive Socialist Party on their side for various reasons, which gives it immunity and doubles its adherence to its position.   

However, the problem remains that the intersection has not yet moved into a coordinating framework for the next steps. Relying on external pressure may not bear fruit with Hezbollah, which insists on only one road map, which these forces reject.   

Addresses of federalism, expanded financial and administrative decentralization, and exit from the state need practical programming. No one today can walk with, or find an external cover for it. 

This means that the game of “biting the fingers” in the vacancy will be challenging and sharp, and Hezbollah, as its opponents see, is more serious than ever in waging it without embarrassment, even for a long time.
 

Lebanon News

Press Highlights

Lebanon

French

Presidential

Envoy

Jean-Yves Le Drian

Christian

Forces

Hezbollah

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